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David Mattingly offers firsthand account in wake of Marshall County shooting

Updated: Jan. 24, 2018 at 12:48 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - After reporting on mass shootings including Columbine, Aurora and Virginia Tech, I have noticed a pattern that emerges in the aftermath of such tragedies.

Regardless of their size, communities almost instinctively become unified by their shared sense of loss, as well as their shared values of kindness, decency and compassion.

I see that at work right now in Benton, home of Marshall County High School, and now the site of the nation's latest mass school shooting.

About 12 hours after a 15-year-old student pulled out a handgun and opened fire on his classmates, groups across the region were organizing vigils and prayer services.

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At the first Christian Church in Benton, emotions were still raw and too personal  for church leaders to feel comfortable allowing our camera to record the service.

Instead, I sat in the back of the sanctuary and watched as  people filed in. A few came alone, others brought their friends and families.

They were all greeted with a smile. There were a few tears but a lot of hugs.

One very moving moment came early in the service. The crowd sang How Great Thou Art. There was no piano or organ accompanying them.

It was a room full of people expressing themselves through the words of a comforting hymn. They spoke with one voice that seemed to resonate with hope and fellowship.

I don't believe anyone came to that service looking for answers. They came looking for peace. And, for a moment, they it found in each other.

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